Get it? San Jose? Hello? Anyone?
Anyway this is the last game of the West Coast road trip, which of course means you can soon return to normal sleep cycles under your Barry Beck posters. Here’s hoping it’s a good one, if only for the people of San Jose — who I’m pretty sure according to the new NHL schedule won’t see the Rangers again this century. Or at least until Thomas Pock plays next. Whichever comes first.
Either way, as I mentioned before, the Rangers can play this game knowing the road trip will at least be a moderate success. Given the ugly loss to Florida last week, and even an uglier loss at L.A. on Monday, I would imagine most fans would have signed up for a 2-2 swing out West. That the team has a chance to go 3-1 is even better (speaking of which, in this era of expensive newsprint, we should thank the Rangers for not even needing the third column in the standings yet).
With that in mind, a few things to keep an eye on:
Attitude: We’ve seen Panicky Rangers (Phoenix, last night in Anaheim). And we’ve seen Overconfident Rangers (L.A.). What do we get if we see Relaxed and Focused Rangers? I’m not saying that’s what we’re in for, but we have yet to see a team that isn’t a) of a fragile mindset because of a recent loss, or b) of inflated self-esteem because of a recent win. At one point, these guys are going to figure out there’s a healthy medium in there somewhere.
Kevin Weekes: The people of Rangerland have spoken. They love the fact that the backup emerged from purgatory to guide their team to victory against the Ducks last night. But they hate the fact that he is being tossed out there again on back-to-back nights. I’m on the fence on this one. I like the fact that Tom Renney is rewarding Weekes’ solid effort last night with another shot tonight. But I wonder about the message it sends No. 1 Henrik Lundqvist, who, while shaky at times, can’t be held responsible for his team’s uneven play. Goalies have feelings too, you know.
Marek Malik: The people of Rangerland have also spoken about this one, and it goes something like this: What the…..? While I’ve always been a believer that a guy should be rewarded fresh off a two-assist game, I’m not sure what the protocol is when the two assists were FOR THE OTHER TEAM. OK, wisecracks over. Truth is, if not for his two significant gaffes, Malik wouldn’t have had that bad a game against the Ducks. Yes, I’m aware that’s an “if” almost as big as Malik himself. But a point was made to me the other day, and it sort of ties in to what I was saying about the Rangers’ attitude as a whole: You want your guys to play with fear. But you don’t want your guys to play with so much fear that they’re paralyzed. That’s been a problem so far with the Rangers, and it may explain why Malik needs another shot.
Heavyweights toe-to-toe: No. 1 scorer in the league last year (Joe Thornton) against the No. 2 scorer (Jaromir Jagr). What more can you ask for?